Mr. Walker died in
Dresden, Saxony Jan. 9, 1880. He was graduated at Hamilton College in
1824, and received the honorary degree of Master of Arts from Yale
College in 1881. A lawyer by profession, he took a lively interest in
politics, first as a Whig then as a Republican, was distinguished for
public spirit, and had a natural taste for art, which he diligently
cultivated, both for his own benefit and pleasure, and as a patron of
art, byhis friendship and encouragement
to artists, and by purchases to the extent of his ability. He went to
reside in Europe for the sake, in part, of greater opportunities for
art-culture. His home, wherever established, was the scene of frequent
and graceful hospitalities.
The children of this marriage were
five daughters, of whom only three lived to grow up: 1. Annie Breese (b.
1833); who married Henry, Stanley Dexter of San Francisco, Cal., and
died in 1867, "mourned by her immediate family and a large circle
of relatives and friends," a beautiful and lovely woman,
leaving two sons, Stanley Walker, married, in 1884, to Gabriella
Manigault daughter of Colonel Julian McAllister, U. S. A., and Henry
Stanley and one daughter, Annie Breese---who are now orphans; 2. Susan
Louisa (b. 1834), who married Henry William Smith of New York, and now
lives a widow, with one child, Walker Breese, married, in 1822, to Maud
daughter of Francis R. Rives Esq. of New York; 3. Mary Seymour (b.
1845), who married Major James Eglinton Montgomery, United States
Consul, brother of the late Rev. Dr. Henry Montgomery of New York, and
now resides at Vevey in Switzerland, with one child, Hugh Eglinton.
Rev. Dr. Jedediah Morse and Elizabeth Ann Breese|
Rev. Dr. Samuel Finley Snowden and Susan Breese
Josiah Salisbury and Abigail Breese
Mr. Dunlap, the painter
Clerk of the Supreme Court
Susan Breese Stout
Dr. Samuel Finley Breese Morse
REV. DR. JEDEDIAH MORSE and ELIZABETH ANN BREESE MORSE|
Among my childish recollections, was a visit at my father's house on Genesee street, Utica, from our relatives Dr. Jedediah (1761-1826) and Mrs. (1766-1828) Morse, the latter being my father's half-sister, and the parents of Prof. S.F.B. Morse. The personal appearance of Mr. Morse peculiarly impressed me. He was tall, extremely thin, and had a singularly dark complexion, grave and solemn looking. We young ones thought that being a clergyman, he might think it wicked for us to romp or laugh, so that during their sojourn, we were under great restraint.
In his full suit of black cloth and white neck-tie, Mr. Morse had a decidedly clerical look. He had bright, black eyes, with a soft, gentle expression, and his manner was kind and gracious, especially to children of whom he was fond.
I remember his officiating in the church which our family attended, and how wearied we were with listening to his long sermon, slowly delivered, and with what a sense of relief and delight, we rushed out at its conclusion!
On one occasion, being corrected by my mother in his presence, for making some thoughtless remark, he turned to me and in his deliberate manner (for he was wonderfully slow of speech) said, "My child, it is a safe rule to think before you speak: but a still safer rule is, to take your words and lay them out upon your hand, look at them, turn them over, look at them again, and if the sentence meets your approval, when then, give it utterance. By observing this rule, my child, you will, in after life, be spared much regret." My impulsive nature was such that I fear the Rev. Doctor's advice was not heeded.
He was a learned theologian, a controversalist, a literary man and the author of the first geography published in America. His life, written by Rev. Dr. Sprague of Albany, has been recently published.
The Doctor was very genial and cheery and always had a romp with us little folks and told us droll stories. His delight in the "cup which cheers but not inebriates" was notorious, and like Dr. Johnson, he would have his five or six cups of tea, which made him entertaining and merry.
Mr. Salisbury had a lovely countenance, was exceedingly neat in his dress, rather serious and quiet in manner and I
remember hearing my mother say, was "a charming person." The children were held up to us as models of
propriety and behaviour: so modest, polite and obedient. Being younger than myself, I was deputed to show them the garden and the grounds, and told to pick
all the fruit we wished which they would not even taste, without their mother's permission! This made a lasting
impression upon me, and I wondered whether all the children in Boston were so well brought up!
On one occasion, Col. Burr was dining with us en famille, no other guest being present save my eldest brother Rear Admiral Breese, then a Captain in the U.S. Navy, at home on a furlough.
After dinner I, a young girl, arose from the table, leaving the gentlemen over their wine. When on the piazza ready to start for my walk, the courtly old politician made his adieux to my parents, and in the most gallant manner begged permission to escort me. The gentleman whom I afterwards married remembers seeing me on that occasion walking with Col. Burr who, with head uncovered, was bowing and looking at me, and listening to my childish remarks with as much apparent pleasure, as though they were uttered by one much older!
In his intercourse with men and with politicians, Col. Burr's manners may have been overbearing and otherwise objectionable, but with ladies, young or old, he was ever the thorough bred gentleman. He could look a compliment, although at the same time, his lips might be tightly closed!
Our residence was next to Mr. Johnson's, the grounds adjoining. My father who was then an invalid and unable to be present
at this reception, was told by the officer of the day that the General and suite would pay him a visit
if he so desired. This exceptional courtesy enabled my parents and a considerable number of the elite of the city
who had been invited, to enjoy the honor of an introduction.
I can well remember my mother's tasteful decoration of the drawing rooms with flowers, the display of old fashioned silver on the sideboard, and the table with choice wine and refreshments, and perfectly recall the personal appearance of hte distinguished guest, the cynosure of all eyes, his gracious and courtly manners, as with hat in hand, he walked quietly up the broad steps of the piazza and with much ease, and apparent pleasure, acknowledged the various introductions.
Upon the conclusion of this ceremony, I was led by my father to the General, who laid his hand gently on my head and said "God bless you, my dear!"
George Washington la Fayette, the stepson of the Marquis, accompanied him on this occasion, as one of his suite, and in 1869, after "Time's busy finger had written age upon my brow" whilst in Paris, and I had become a grandmother, I had the pleasure of meeting his son, Count Edward la Fayette, who was a lawyer and a fine looking man of about 45 years of age, who spoke english with ease. Whilst dining with him one day I mentioned, that when a child, I had been presented to his grandfather when he last visited our country! With the accustomed suavity and politeness for which his nation is so celebrated, he complimented me upon my youthful appearance, adding that "if it were not rude in him, he should doubt whether I, at that time, were in existence!"
The scion of a noble house was a Republican in his sentiments; hostile to Louis Napoleon and his regime, and very partial to Americans, amongst whom he had a large acquaintance, having twice visited our country. This interview was a few months prior to the late war between France and Prussia.
Whilst writing the above, the news has reached us by telegram, of the death at Chizzlehurst, Jan. 9, 1873, of Louis Napoleon, late Emperor of France, in the 67th year of his age!
at the last Presentation Ball given by the Emperor at the Tuilleries, my husband and daughter were presented. Four months after, war was declared between France and Prussia and several months later, the Emperor, Empress and Prince Imperial, were refugees in England!
when the Court was in session, the Judges and lawyers were frequently entertained. Although scarcely in my teens, I remember seeing Judges Savage; Woodworth; Van Ness; Sutherland and Platt; the latter was a connection of the family (married to the aunt of Catharine Livingston) and resided for a time in Utica. Among many others whom I particularly remember as constant guests were Judge Southard (formerly Secretary of the Navy), Judge Greig of Canandaigua; Gov. De Witt Clinton (son of Colonel James Clinton, Henry Livingston's commander during his Revolutionary War service); Commodore Melancthon Woolsey (a near relation) (first cousin of Sarah Welles, Catharine Livingston's mother), and several officers of the U.S. Navy, that branch of the service having always been largely represented in our family.
I have an indistinct recollection of peeping through the crack of the door, to catch a glimpse of Commodore Chauncey, whilst he was dining with my father, and can recall visits paid by Commodores Roger and Mr. Donough, the hero of the battle of Lake Champlain; Chancellor Kent (law partner of Catharine Livingston's uncle, Gilbert Livingston); Major Cochrane and his brother Walter; Col. Malcolm, and seeing the great American novelist, J. Fenimore Cooper and Col. Combe. Col. Malcolm had seen service in the Revolution, was a lawyer by profession and raised and commanded a Regiment of artillery in the State of New-York, in which the celebrated Aaron Burr was a Field officer.
The venerable and greatly respected Patroon of Albany, Stephen Van Rensselaer, was an occasional guest, and my sister had the pleasure of visiting Mrs. Van Rensselaer at her home in Albany.
Fifty years ago the facilities for traveling were far different from what they are in these modern times. Stages, post coaches, or private conveyances were used: no railroads, no steamers and the great Erie Canal only in contemplation! The celebration of the completion of this work made a great impression upon me as it occured the year of my father's death, 1825. To Governor Clinton's efforts the country is indebted for pushing forward that important enterprise. The Governor was a personal friend of my father, and I have heard my parents laugh heartily over a trip made with him in a sloop down the Mohawk to Albany. The water in many places was shallow and the boat would continually stick in the mud, so that the passengers as well as sailors were obliged to assist in getting her afloat!
Hotels were few, far between, and indifferently kept, so that gentleman obliged to travel, gladly availed themselves of the hospitality and good cheer proferred them by private individuals.
My mother was an accomplished housekeeper, presiding with grace and dignity at her table, or in the drawing room.
In matters of taste, she was authority in all cases. My father used to plead as an excuse for such constant entertaining, his "having a fine house, a graceful and capable wife, a well-stocked larder and always the choicest wines."
At that time my cousin was recovering from a terrible blow his heart had sustained, in the sudden death of his lovely young wife. It was in 1825, while he was painting in Washington, for the corporation of New York, the full length portrait of General la Fayette, then in our country, that the news was conveyed to him of this bereavement.
As soon as possible, he hurried to New Haven, Conn. where she had died under his mother's roof, but alas! arrived after the burial! Upon learning of the sad event La Fayette wrote him a most tender and sympathising note, which endeared him to the afflicted artist so strongly, that their correspondence and friendship ceased only with the death of the illustrious Frenchman. When in Europe, Prof. Morse was often his guest and knew the several members of his family.
At the urgent solicitations of my cousin, I was permitted to accompany him to New Haven, to visit his mother and children, and there I had the pleasure of meeting the late Professor Silliman, who was a contemporary and intimate friend. We returned to New York and, later in the season, Prof. Morse escorted a cousin and myself to Utica and whilst there, painted my portrait, cabinet size, which is still in my possession. In several of the neighbouring towns, he also painted portraits of the prominent people.
One evening he was jocosely speaking of his versatility of talent, thinking that I did not fully appreciate it and said, "Cousin, I am a sculptor, as well as painter, something of a musician, and can write poetry!" Not being aware that he posessed this last accomplishment, I contradicted and even doubted, his ability to write, except in prose. Somewhat chagrined at my incredulity, he said, "Give me a subject and tomorrow I will bring you the lines." Now it so happened , that the night previous I had been serenaded, and unfortunately, had slept through it, and never having seen verses on that subject, I replied, "Take the Serenade!"
In due time he brought the following lines, written in his beautiful clear style.
These verses were
published in the "Talisman" for 1829, at the request of
the editors, with an engraved picture of The Serenade from the author's
own design. The original painting in oil was afterwards presented to
his cousin as a bridal gift, but was destroyed by the burning of
Morell's Storehouse in New York.
These lines were much admired, and with other treasures of a like character, were carefully preserved and read to the favored few. In the autumn, on his arrival in New-York, Prof. Morse met one day, his old friends Gulian C. Ver Planck nd Mr. Sands, both literary men and all members of the same Club. They were then actively engaged in getting up an "Annual," which at that period was a novel enterprise. These gentlemen solicited of him a contribution to their work, whereupon he drew from his pocket a copy of the foregoing "Serenade" saying, "If this suits, you are welcome." The two gentlemen were much pleased with the lines and a few days later requested the Professor to add an appropriate illustration, which could be engraven for the "Annual." In accordance therewith, Mr. Morse painted in oil, a lovely moonlight scene, suggestive of the subject, which in 1820, was duly inserted in the book called the "Talisman." As soon as it was published, a copy was presented me, which is still in my possession, and on the occasion of my marriage, my cousin had the picture framed, and sent me as a bridal gift. When in New York, 1872, I received a note from my venerable nd then celebrated cousin, in his 80th year, the handwriting as in youth, clear and bold, asking me for a copy of the "Serenade," which he had mislaid. This note, with a lock of his snowy white hair, I still retain as valuable mementos of the past.
The year following, in the prosecution of his profession, Prof. Morse sailed for Europe, taking with him orders from his friends to copy pictures of the old masters. We corresponded regularly both before and after my marriage. Sometimes his letters were in rhyme and very amusing and I remember one in particular which was unusually droll, upon inviting me to a lecture to be given by Mr. Dana, upon electro magnetism!
During one of his voyages across the Atlantic at a later period, the application of electricity to telegraphic communication, suggested itself to him and for many years this subject absorbed his time and thoughts. One obstacle after another was overcome by his resolute, hopeful and patient nature; obstacles which to most men even in the pursuit of science, would have been deemed insurmountable. But with untiring, unflagging industry, intense application, rigid self-denial and fervent prayer, he pursued his investigations, not unfrequently subjected to ridicule and the suspicion of being somewhat demented.
While in Paris, Prof. Morse made the acquaintance of Daguerre, a member of the Royal Academy of Science, whose discoveries in photography were then the theme of conversation. The system was explained to him by the great scientist, and with the information requisite regarding the use of chemicals. He returned to New-York and shortly thereafter wrote to my sister and myself to come to the city, and he would guarantee, by the aid of the sun, to produce our likenesses in five minutes, which to us seemed incredible. These were then called Daguerreotypes or sun pictures.
In the autumn of 1844, we were in New-York, and to gratify our scientific cousin, spent nearly a day on the roof of the University building, which he had specifically fitted up for his purposes, as the light was not obstructed by the street or the surrounding buildings. In the early stages of this art, this mode of taking likenesses was deemed essential, and the light was intensified by the aid of mirrors, fastened on the roof, which reflected the sun.
We remained seated here, exposed to the noonday sun for hours, our complexions becoming actually tanned and the tears often streaming down our cheeks, and we were taken literally, "with a drop in the eye!" It was a fearful ordeal not soon to be forgotten. After repeated failures, Prof. Morse succeeded in producing tolerable pictures, one of which is still in my possession.
The next summer he brought the apparatus to Utica and during his visit to us often amused himself by taking our likenesses in the open air, but the foliage and wind, however slight, were always obstacles to success. As nearly as I can remember, it must have been about this time, while visiting us, Prof. Morse would sit hour after hour, talking of and endeavouring to explain to me, his invention, not yet completed but in progress. In the meantime he was practicing vigorous economy, in order that his icome should be devoted to his work. My memory recalls him visibly, with his expressive hazel eyes, his thin, thoughtful face; the silver threads beginning to streak his once raven hair; the lines and furrows in his cheek giving him a prematurely old look, and in his earnest, deliberate mode of conversing, recounting the benefits which the world would derive, should his life be spared to complete successfully his great invention. Upon one occasion, I interrupted him, more in jest than in earnest, saying, "Now cousin Finley, stop a moment, and listen to me. Too much learning has made you mad! I do not comprehend you, nor does the world in general. Your scheme, or invention as you call it, is entirely Utopian and you will never live to see it realized, nor shall I. Pray do not bother your brain, injure your health, and empty your purse on this project any more. Renounce it all, now and forever, and resume the palette and the brush."
With his usual amiability and forbearance, he was not affronted at my remarks, but smiling sadly said, in his slow manner, "Cousin, I never expect to live to realize any benefit from my invention, and may not live to witness its completion, but depend upon it, you will, and your children and the world will associate my name with those of Franklin and Fulton, as among the great benefactors of the age! That is my hope and that will be my reward!"
The result amply demonstrates that Prof. Morse was correct in disregarding the advice and ridicule of those who endeavoured to dissuade him from prosecuting his experiments, for soon after this, an appropriation of thirty thousand dollars made by Congress, enabled him to continue with vigor and renewed hope, his darling project, and unlike the generalityof inventors, he lived to realize both fame and fortune.
Very soon after the practical working of the telegraph was established, I received a letter, so interesting from its history of the first telegraphic message transmitted by him, as to make it well worthy of preservation.
New-York, August 2, 1844
Prof. Morse died in 1872, full of years and honors, with an ample fortune and beloved by all who knew him. His reputation is world wide, and the honors paid to his memory were profuse throughout the civilized world. His character was remarkably symmetrical; his temper calm and equable, his faith and trust strong throughout his life, and he was always the courteous christian gentleman.